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Posts Tagged ‘children’s theatre’

The kids walked in expecting to see the set all ready and the show about to start, but they were in for a surprise. What they walked in upon was the sight of the stage in a state of undress, with boxes and other things scattered across the stage, and stage hands busy with their various tasks.

What was going on? Were we in the right theatre? Did we get the venue or time wrong?

Have we come to the right show? Catching a glimpse of the backstage action (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Turns out, it was iTheatre‘s innovative way of giving kids (and their parents) a glimpse into unseen aspects of theatre. Those stage hands? They were really the actors taking on the role of stage hands. They were actors pretending to be stage hands who were pretending to be actors. I thought that was quite an amusing twist on itself.

The twist went further when one of the backstage crew said they were in the midst of preparing for the show, Poultry Tales! What a minute, weren’t we already watching it?

I had been wondering how iTheatre would weave the three different tales into a single, coherent show. Using the premise of the backstage crew secretly trying on costumes and living out their acting dreams, iTheatre managed to tie the three tales together quite well.

Maggie, the stage manager, and her assistant take pains to train their newbie interns the rudiments of backstage work. In the process, the audience is treated to the three tales, and introduced to a whole bunch of terms that performers use for the various items found around the stage – fly bar, cyclorama, flat, legs (no, not the legs we walk on), hand prop, etc. I thought it was wonderful to introduce these terms to the kids. I especially loved how as each part of the stage was introduced, the stage set slowly came together to be nicely put together, as one normally sees it when walking into the theatre. It’s not everyday that you get to see a stage set get pieced together right before you eyes.

Maggie (in red), her assistant (in brown), and the intern. (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Anyway, the flow from pre-show segment to the actual show was so seamless that my boys weren’t quite sure that the show had actually started already! I had to whisper to them that the show had already started! I guess they were expecting the actors to don more elaborate costumes and such (the actors were wearing simple overalls in different colours). That was one of the reasons why I liked the first story – Chicken Licken – the best. It showed the kids that all you need to portray a character was just a mask. And with just a change of mask, you can change your character. The four actors played six characters! Some characters had to switch between their masks and were basically talking to themselves :)

Acting out Chicken Licken with just masks! (Photo credit: iTheatre)

More than that though, the story-telling for Chicken Licken was fast-paced and entertaining! From the time the show ended, and every day since, one of my kids will say, complete with exaggerated actions, “I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and some of it fell on my tail!”

In the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, while I thought the gentleman took a little too much pleasure in thinking about how to murder the poor innocent goose, it did drive home the lesson that we should not be consumed by greed. In terms of props, the kids were tickled at how the goose spewed ribbons instead of blood, when she was killed. Though the lead up to the kill was filled with tension, the end was humourous without losing the plot.

Evil plans are a-hatching in the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The final story was about The Little Red Hen. Her friends all swore to be there for her whenever she needed their help, but whenever she asked for it, they came up with one excuse or another and ran away. She did everything on her own, and enjoyed the fruits of her own labour. Her friends on the other hand, learnt that they should keep their promises all the time, and not pick and choose when to keep it. I also tend to think that for this story, the moral really is that if you want something done, you just got to do it yourself. Hopefully we have friends who are more dependable that we can count on of course!

Little Red Hen and her unreliable friends (Photo credit: iTheatre)

My three-year old may not have understood the backstage bit, but she definitely enjoyed the stories told, and had a good time laughing at the funny segments (and getting appropriately worried for the goose when it was going to get killed). The boys were better able to appreciate the backstage elements, and they certainly enjoyed the story-telling as well.

Poultry Tales in on until Sunday, 14 May. Do hurry and get your tickets from SISTIC! Enjoy a post-exam treat for all the family, or end the weekend with a Mother’s Day outing to the theatre. Good lessons taught, lots of backstage things to see and learn, and overall an enjoyable show.

Don’t miss your chance to catch iTheatre, because this might very well be their last production. They have unfortunately lost their source of funding, and will not be able to continue for the time being. iTheatre is seeking funding, and if you or others you know are able to help, please do give them your support. You can find out more about how to help iTheatre here.

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Three bickering siblings. Two boys and a girl. Three different sets of skills and talents. I can relate to that!

I brought my three little piglets to watch The Three Little Pigs by SRT’s The Little Company, and the story and it’s telling were just as engaging as I remembered. I had brought my eldest to watch it years ago. It was more than half of his lifetime ago, so he doesn’t remember much. But I remember loving the performance and thought it was wonderful to have the opportunity to bring all three kids to catch the production.

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Since it was first performed in 2012, The Little Company’s The Three Little Pigs has been staged all over the world! In New York, London, Sydney, Chicago, cities in Finland, and cities in China. Wow.

Having watched it previously, I can tell you that it’s still the high quality production that it was before. And like most, if not all, of The Little Company’s shows, there’s lots to love about this production.

Besides having the most adorable names (Cha, Siu and Bao! – from now on how can you eat a cha siu bao and not think of these piggies?), the characters are given memorable personalities as well. Cha the brawny one, Siu the environmentally conscious one, and Bao the bookish one. Who can forget the amusing cameos by various ‘convenient tradespersons’! So funny, because yes, really, in reading the book, isn’t it just so convenient that someone ambles along with enough material for the pigs to build a house? Especially the house of bricks! And the wolf! Who didn’t love the misunderstood wolf?  The cast dug into their roles and pulled off all their character’s quirks really well.

Bao, Siu, Mummy Pig, and Cha

The songs were great too – catchy tunes and catchy lyrics. We found ourselves humming the songs after the show and bopping as we walked. These songs will stick in your head for quite a while, I tell you. I also love, love, love how the wolf’s songs had a getai feel. It’s such a novel idea to use getai inspired music in a kid’s show. Ivan Chan gave a commendable performance as the wolf. If this is your first time watching the production, you’re definitely in for a treat. Having seen the first edition though, I do think I have a preference for Sebastian Tan’s version of the wolf, simply because he was so over-the-top flamboyant. It suited the getai-esque songs and the self-absorbed, self-pitying nature of the wolf.

The wolf who’s just a bit misunderstood

As with most of The Little Company’s children’s productions, there is a message they want the kids to learn from the story. For the Three Little Pigs, the kids went home with the knowledge that while everyone has different skills and talents, rather than let these differences divide us, we can pool our skills to accomplish shared dreams. In other words, we should work together because everyone has something to offer.

You can bet I’m going to milk this one. If one or the other says, “but s/he’s not good at [fill in the blank with some activity]”, I shall remind them of how they each bring a different perspective to things, and they each can help.

The other lesson I liked was that a “family sticks together”. Despite all the bickering, the piglets three loved and helped one another – and mum! I really hope that the kids learn to stick together through thick and thin. That at the end of the day, despite all the bickering, the kids will know that they can count on one another. That they can be themselves and still be loved for who they are. And that they can meaningfully contribute to the family using their own special gifts and talents.

Cleaning up their too-small home

Watch out wolf!

It’s still the September holidays, and with a public holiday on Monday, why not bring your kids to watch The Three Little Pigs? The show ends its run on 17 Sep, and there are still tickets available through the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). It’s a show suitable for all the family!

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Oink oink oink!

 


Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

Photo credit: All production pictures are from SRT.

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I bought the children’s version of The Wind in the Willows some years back, and had read it to the kids a couple of times before. We pulled it out again in the run up to the theatre production of The Wind in the Willows performed by talking Scarlet.

The Wind in the Willows is a classic children’s book by Kenneth Grahame and tells the story of four friends – Mole, Ratty, Badger and the irrepressible Mr Toad. When Mole plucks up the courage to explore the Riverbank with his friend Ratty, nothing can prepare him for the adventure that awaits. Along with Badger and Mr Toad, they go from one exploit to the next, brought about mainly by Mr Toad’s reckless indulgences, and it all culminates in a battle not only to save Toad Hall, but their very way of life.

From the get-go the show presented a unique proposition, immersing you in a classic English experience. The costumes, the manner of speech, everything was just so English! I’ve never watched any other play like it. I wondered if the kids had trouble understanding what was said because of the heavy accents and speed of talking, but I loved it! And Mr Toad was played wonderfully! Irresponsible, irreverent, yet lovable and funny. I think the kids connected with him the most.

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad and his friends

The script was good, the songs were original and very well arranged. I especially liked the song about going into the wild wood. The melody, rhythm, lyrics and mime came together perfectly to make you feel how creepy it was to wander in the woods when it was getting dark…and you hear a pitter patter…and you think someone’s there…

I also liked how they managed to bring you into different scenes by stirring up your imagination through the use of costumes, very simple props, and context. Without the set ever being changed, you are brought from the riverbank, to Toad Hall, on a ride down the country road, to a courtroom, to a jail, etc. Through subtle use of costume changes some actors took on multiple roles, though these might have been a bit to subtle for the kids. You have to be listening carefully to know which new character is being represented.

The 'car' that started Mr Toad's obsession

The ‘car’ that started Mr Toad’s obsession

Mr Toad driving his swanky new car

Now here’s Mr Toad driving his swanky new car!

While I think it is a tad too sophisticated for the little ones, its really appealing for older children and adults. I really enjoyed watching this! I think it would best suit kids 8 years and above. It is also probably a good idea to read the story to your kids first so that they have an idea of the plot and can keep up with the action. As for my kids, they liked the battle scene the best, though they wished the Chief baddy was shown being flung across the room like how it was mentioned in their version of the book. Boys.

The Wind in the Willows is brought in by ABA Productions and runs until Sunday, 14 June 2015 at SOTA Drama Theatre. Tickets are available at the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). The show is 1h 45min long, something I had overlooked, so if you’re catching the evening show make sure not to overpack your day before that (as I did) and to give your kids enough to eat prior to the show in case they get tired and hungry (and cRaNky – as mine did! Hoo boy! My apologies to those who were sitting around us!)

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We received complementary tickets for this show. All opinions are my own. 

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